Ahmed Mansour is an engineer who was born in 1969 in Ras al Khaimah. He is a father to four kids. Mansour is one of the most prominent human rights defender, as in 2015, he won the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. He won the prize in honor of his continued work in human rights despite the campaign of repression against them and other activists in UAE. Mansour is among the few voices who used to integriously document the developments in the filed of human rights in UAE.
Ahmed was known as a human rights defender, especially defending the freedom of expression. During 2006 and 2007, he launched a campaign of support for a website owner, who was arrested with his collegue over social critical comments. The campaign succeeded as both of them were released and the charges were dropped.
Mansour is one of the initiators of the third of March petition, which called for a democratic reform in the UAE. Later, he was imprisoned along with four others over a discussion that took place on an electronic forum, in a case that later became known as "UAE 5". He was accused of breaking the law of defamation by insulting the heads of the state, was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment, and then was released by a presidential pardon. The authorities have refrained to issue a passport for him and banned him from traveling since he was imprisoned in 2011.
His apprehension and trial
At midnight on March 20, 2017, members of the UAE security forces stormed the house of Ahmed Mansoor in Ajman, and arrested him on orders from the Public Prosecution of Information Technology. According to sources, Ahmed was brought before the Public Prosecution Information Technology to investigate his use of social media to "spread false information and rumors that promote sectarianism, discord, hatred, harm national unity, peace, social life, and the reputation and status of the state, and incite others not to abide by the laws of the state." It is also said that he was arrested over signing a letter with other activists in the region, addressing the Arab leaders who met in Jordan at the Arab summit, and calling for the release of all prisoners of conscience in the Middle East.
After having him arrested, the UAE security forces stormed his house and confiscated many of his properties, including all computers and electronic devices, some of which belong to his sons. Since then, he was kept detained in an unknown place for a year without having any contact with the outside world. That means he was subjected to the crime of enforced disappearance.
A year later, on May 29, 2018, he was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment over tweets criticizing the UAE government's human rights violations and a fine of one million dirhams—about 233,000 euros. Along with that, he was subjected to surveillance for three years, starting after his release. Mansour was convicted of breaking the laws of defamation "insulting the prestige, heads, and leaders of the UAE" and "seeking to harm the UAE's relationship with its neighboring countries by spreading misleading reports and false information on social media.”
The trial was completely private as media, diplomats, and other outside observers were not allowed to attend. The charges brought against him violate his right to freedom of expression under international law. On December 31, 2018, the Federal Supreme Court upheld his conviction.
On 17 March 2019, Ahmed went on a hunger strike as an act of protest against poor prison conditions and an unfair conviction of his human rights activities. Since then, his health and eyesight have significantly deteriorated while being held in an isolated ward at Al Sadr Prison in Abu Dhabi. In his cell, he has no bed to sleep on nor water to drink. He is deprived of family visits and his guaranteed rights and privileges that other prisoners enjoy. Also, he is not allowed to walk outside or participate in sports.
Considering the danger threatening his life, several human rights voices, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, called for his release. Both the European Parliament and the United Nations special rapporteurs called for the immediate and unconditional release of Ahmed.